5

I am beginner guitar player and I am not sure how should I play melodies with perfect fourths without gaps and ugly pauses. For example:

|------------
|------------
|------------
|-------5-7--
|-5-8-5------
|------------

There is perfect fourth between the third and fourth note. Assume that I play it with "vertical scale" fingering (pointer on 5 fret, middle on 6 and so on). Which way should I play it? Should I use barre (for 4 and 5 strings), or move my pointer finger from 5 to 4 string? Or maybe I should play it with some different position? Right now both ways seems a bit odd for me because barre looks like inappropriate and inconvenient in such cases but moving pointer finger leads to gap between sounds.

6

Assuming you're playing this with a pick, you have some options.

Bar both notes with the index finger:

|------------
|------------
|------------
|-------5-7--
|-5-8-5------
|------------
  v ^ v v ^ 
      ---
         \ same direction ("sweep/economy pick")

If you're playing this on an electric guitar with distortion, you have to roll the fingertip, which helps mute the note.

Then there is this:

|------------
|------------
|------------
|-------5-7--
|-5-8-5------
|------------
  v H P ^ H

The fingering is "across", as before, but legato is applied. We "hammer on" the 8, and pull off to return to the 5. Because it's a pull off, it is not very loud. The 5 on the third string is picked, so it overpowers the previous 5 even if you don't rock your finger tip.

But for a potentially smoother phrasing, learn stretch fingerings. These are difficult in the lower positions: you might want to start by trying them somewhere higher up on the neck first where they are easier.

The idea here that to avoid the 5-5 crossing, you play the target note on the original string:

|------------
|------------
|------------
|----------7-
|-5-8-5-10---   10 on second replaces 5 on third
|------------
  v ^ v ^  v    straight alternate picking: see note
  ^ v ^ v  v    economy picking, for a different phrasing

note: v means "down" physically, not "down" within the diagram,
which shows the low E string at the bottom.

Stretch fingerings in the pentatonic scale ("stretch pentatonic") offer a possible way to break out of the improvisational cliches associated with noodling in a "pentatonic box" which make guitarists sound like carbon copies of each other.

Lastly, you can actually use a different finger. That might not be the best in the given position, but I have another example of this: playing a rolled diatonic scale. Say we are in this scale pattern (a mode of C; numbers indicate frets):

   9  10  11  12  13
|---|-*-|---|-*-|-*-|
|---|-*-|---|-*-|-*-|    
|-*-|-*-|---|-*-|
|---|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|---|

Now say we want to play rolled 16th notes: EFGA FGAB GABC ABCD and so on.

A tricky vertical string crossing occurs (twice!):

|-------------------------------------------------------------10--ETC
|-------------10---------10--12------10--12--13--10--12--13---------
|--9--10--12------10-12----------12-----------------------------------
|---------------------------------------------------------------------
              ~~~~~~ oops!   ~~~~~~ oops!

When I play this, I use different fingers on the parallel 10 and 12, like this (1 = index, 4 = pinky):

|  1   2   4  2   1!  3!  1   3   2!  1   3   4   1   3   4    1

Strict alternate picking!

|  v ^    v   ^   v   ^   v ...

I've been practicing these rolls almost daily since 1985, in every diatonic scale shape, ascending and descending. In a few of the patterns, to avoid the tricky crossing between the G and B strings I sometimes use a stretch fingering. (This is easier in the diatonic scale because the crossing is a major third, not a fourth!)

Using a different finger is quite applicable to your particular passage; I rehearsed it without difficulty, using this fingering:

|---------------
|---------------
|---------------
|----------5--7-
|-5--8--5-------
|---------------
  1  4  1  2! 4!
  v  ^  v  ^  v   (alternate picking)

An alternative worth exploring, certainly. Every choice you make of this type affects the phrasing. Variety in phrasing adds interest; it's not only about whether we can or cannot play something easily.

6

You should roll your first finger, i.e. first you press down the A string on the 5th fret with the tip of your index finger, and when you need to play the 5th fret of the d string, you make your first finger flat, but instead of barring both strings you roll your first finger in such a way that you press down the d string with the softer part of your first finger while muting the A string with the tip of the finger.

This is the standard way of playing two consecutive notes on the same fret on two neighboring strings. You can do that with any finger. The idea is that as soon as you fret the second note, the first note is muted by the tip of the finger, so there's no moment when both notes ring together.

This technique is also explained here, but note that it is not only used for playing complete arpeggios.

  • Is this technique applicable if I want to play it fast? Should I master this "roll" technique or use anything else? And thank you very much for answer and editing my question (unfortunately I am not familiar with musical dictionary in English). – Fyodor Volchyok Jun 30 '15 at 19:26
  • Yes, with practice one can roll very fast. This technique is used for arpeggios very frequently. – Todd Wilcox Jun 30 '15 at 19:37
  • @FyodorVolchyok: Yes, you should definitely try to master this technique. It can and should be used with any tempo. – Matt L. Jun 30 '15 at 20:04

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.